With Opening Day less than a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.
RP Darren O’Day
Opening Day age: 34
Contract status: Under contract through the 2019 season
2016 stats: 3-1, 3 saves, 3.77 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 6 HR, 31 innings
Why to be impressed: O’Day’s strikeout rate held firm after his career-best 11.3 per nine innings in 2015 that warranted an invitation to the All-Star Game. It was also encouraging to see him return from a late-season shoulder injury to allow only one run in his final five appearances, which included 1 2/3 scoreless frames in the American League wild-card game in Toronto.
Why to be concerned: Very consistent and durable over his first four seasons in Baltimore, 2016 was a lost campaign for O’Day as he missed roughly half the season with hamstring and shoulder injuries. His home-run rate of 1.7 per nine innings explained his higher ERA while he also recorded the worst walk rate of his career, a red flag for a 34-year-old entering the second season of a four-year, $31 million deal.
2017 outlook: The Orioles hope that O’Day’s shoulder issue is behind him and that he returns to being their most reliable setup man, but his age and 2016 season should signal to manager Buck Showalter that he can’t push the submariner quite as hard as he used to. You’d like to take comfort in O’Day’s track record and reputation for taking care of himself, but past durability doesn’t guarantee future durability.
2017 not-so-scientific projections: 5-3, 3 saves, 2.53 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 6 HR, 54 innings